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My passion is genealogy and family history. I host a podcast about Australian family history, Genies Down Under. In my day job, I work as a lecturer and a researcher in higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.

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Saturday, 19 January 2019

Going back to 1902: Visiting the birthplace of my maternal grandmother, Lily KINGSBURY

Lily Ann KINGSBURY, my grandmother, was born on 25 November 1902 in an upstairs bedroom of no. 10 Red Lion St, a little terrace house in Balmain South (an area of Sydney now known as Rozelle). She lived in this home with her family for the first three years of her life.

10 Red Lion St, Rozelle
Source: Google Maps, 19 January 2019

Lily's father's name is recorded on the 1901 census as "Jas KINGSBURY" (James Walter KINGSBURY) who was living with three females. I think they were:

  1. his wife, Catherine KINGSBURY (nee CARRICK);
  2. his daughter, Essie KINGSBURY, born in 1891 (from his first marriage to Elizabeth CHESWORTH who died in 1893) 
  3. his daughter, Mary Elizabeth KINGSBURY, born in 1900.
The sister of Catherine KINGSBURY (nee CARRICK), Hannah STAPLES (nee CARRICK), was living next door with her husband, Edgar STAPLES, in no. 8 Red Lion St.

Excerpt from 1901 Australia Census

No. 8 and no. 10 Red Lion St are part of a set of terrace houses that were built in the 1880s, known as "Mary's row". The outside of each of these homes has probably not changed that much since they were built. Here is how they look now:

No. 8 Red Lion, Rozelle

No. 10 Red Lion St, Rozelle

Today, over 116 years later, three of Lily's descendants visited the terrace house where she was born. Along with my Mum (Lily's eldest daughter), my Aunty Mary (Lily's niece) and my Uncle Brian, we all visited the house and walked in the footsteps of our ancestors.  It was a very moving feeling to walk over the threshold of this house into the space where the KINGSBURY family lived over 100 years ago and where my lovely Grandma (my Mum's Mum and my Aunty Mary's Aunty Lil) was born.

The bottom floor was made up of two living rooms, a kitchen/laundry/toilet and a courtyard.

And the two bedrooms were upstairs. Lily KINGSBURY would have been born in one of these two bedrooms in 1902.

According to a few records I have found (1901 Census, Sands Directory of Sydney, Birth Certificate), it seems that the KINGSBURY family lived at no. 10 Red Lion St for about five years from 1901 through to 1905.  By June 1905, when Lily's brother, James Thomas KINGSBURY, was born, the family had moved to Merton St, Balmain South (now known as Rozelle).

Excerpt from 1901 Sands Directory, page 230

Excerpt from 1902 Sands Directory, page 232

Excerpt from 1903 Sands Directory, page 229

Excerpt from 1904 Sands Directory, page 226

Excerpt from 1905 Sands Directory, page 230

Thanks to a Google Alert that let me know that no. 10 Red Lion was available for rent, and thanks to the real estate agent who allowed us to look through the house this morning, we were able to walk back into the past to an important time in our family's history. We enjoyed walking on the floorboards, climbing the stairs, touching the doors and imagining the lives of our ancestors in this house.

Lily KINGSBURY as a young child

Essie KINGSBURY as a young child